Wednesday, April 5, 2023

MOTO GP: 2023 Season Starts with New Sprint Race Format and Plenty of Fireworks

But How many Riders will become Injured during these Sprint Races designed just to Spice Up the Show?


The 2023 MotoGP season got off to a late start this year, due to Qatar’s’ Losail International Circuit being renovated. Thus the premiere road racing Kneedraggers’ began their season on March 26th in Portimao, Portugal.


On Friday, KTM Satellite GasGas Tech 3 rider Pol Espargaro lost adhesion with His rear tyre and slid thru the gravel trap Sans Motorcycle before impacting the Wall Himself with a vicious Thump! As the younger Espargaro suffered contusions to His lungs and ribs, a broken Jaw and broken Vertebrae! Being taken to Hospital and obviously missing the weekend’s Portuguese Grand Prix.


As His older brother Aleix has revealed following His visit to the Barcelona Hospital Pol was recovering at. It will obviously be a long recovery process due to needing Jaw surgery, and dealing with His Back, ribs and lung issues…


Although presumably the satellite KTM team would draft in a replacement rider, albeit I’d read nothing on this prior to MotoGP’s Friday practice of the second round at Argentina a week later.


Saturday afternoon saw the commencing of the inaugural Sprint race, which MotoGP has introduced for All 21 rounds this year on Saturday’s at 2PM local time. Which simply adds an extra race each weekend, being Half Distance of Sunday’s main event.


With the Sprint race’s paying out Points for the Top Nine riders, with a maximum of 12 points offered to the Sprint winner. With the remaining eight points places descending from 9-7-6-5-4-3-2-1.


Hence, there will be a maximum of 777 points on offer for the season’s 21 races, with a maximum score of 37 points per weekend available.


And the Hits just kept Ah-Comin’, Yowza! As newly anointed Ducati Factory rider Enea Bastianini, whose nickname is “The Beast was collected in the first ever Sprint race by fellow VR46 Duc’ rider Luca Marini.


As Marini, Half Brother of somebody named “The Doctor,” aka Valentino Rossi, who just so happens to own the racing team. Apparently Overcooked the entry to Turn-5 on lap-2 and Knocked down Bastianini, who went down Hard on His right shoulder! Which afterwards was diagnosed as being fractured, ruling Bastianini out of Sunday’s main race.


But wait Folks, we’re Not done yet with the melee! As the opening laps of Sunday’s main race saw Ye Pinball Wizzard’, nee Marc Marquez Outbrake Himself, when locking up a “cold” front Michelin tyre. Glancing off of Jorge Martin, who later claimed to have a broken toe from this incident.


Followed by Marquez ricocheting into a Hapless Michele Oliveira, for which the majority of the crowd was rooting for their Countryman to be victorious again. As both riders went down Hard and Marquez was met with a chorus of Boos when trying to apologize to the partisan Portuguese crowd!


And thus the Scoreboard would eventually tally these four riders not racing a week later in Argentina! With further controversy surrounding Marquez and Repsol Honda, after if was confirmed that the Spaniard had suffered a broken right Thumb in the incident.


Having initially been docked with a Double Long Lap Penalty to be served at Argentina. The Team believed the wording of the initial ruling thus circumvented Marquez from serving the penalty at a further race by skipping Argentina after having Hand surgery…


Yet it basically turned into The Pecco’ Bagnaia Show, as the reigning MotoGP World Champion Blitzed the field in both Saturday and Sunday’s event.


Since even though Maverick “top gun” vinales gave Francesco Bagnaia a spirited chase, Vinales could never get close enough to the Italian for an attempt to pass for the lead, which Bagnaia managed effectively Flag-to-Flag. Whilst VR46’s Marco Bezzecchi was a somewhat distant third for an all Italian manufacturer Podium sweep Sunday at Portimoa.


And with Bagnaia winning both races, the Italian left Portugal with 37 points in the bag, ahead of Vinales with 25 points.


Argentina’s Round 2 saw both the RNF Aprilia and GasGas Tech 3 KTM satellite Squads electing to not replace their injured riders. As Oliveira who suffered injuries to His Foot, possibly including ligament damage chose to sit out to Heel fully for Round 3 at Circuit Of The Americas at Austin on April 16th.


Then just hours prior to Friday practice commencing at Argentina, the GasGas Tech 3 team announced that KTM Test Rider Jonas Folger would replace Pol Espargaro beginning at Austin, for an undetermined duration during Espargaro’s recovery.


As Folger’s only previous MotoGP campaign was in 2017 as a Rookie with the then Tech 3 Yamaha satellite outfit,. With Folger finishing runner-up to Marc Marquez at His Home race at the Sachsenring, Before the German was diagnosed with Gilbert’s Syndrome, prematurely ending His MotoGP career.


Have to say I’m surprised that neither Factory Ducati or Honda Squads elected to have their Test Riders Deputize for their injured Werks’ riders at Argentina. Leaving us with a paltry 18 riders taking the Green Flag for Saturday’s second Sprint Race. Which Hopefully wouldn’t see any more riders being seriously injured!


Yet little did I know that Repsol Honda’s sole remaining rider for the weekend,

Joan Mir would be ruled out of Sunday’s main race in Argentina. As Mir suffered a concussion on lap-1 of the Saturday Sprint Race after Crashing! And suffering Nausea and Dizziness Sunday morning, was ruled Unfit to race.